Franciscan Times
News and Stories from the Klipsch Educators College

Student finds her passion for teaching while attending Marian University, Indianapolis

Shatoya Jordan PhotoShatoya Jordan describes herself as someone who likes to learn the ropes and work her way up to the top. She has always worked hard, cares about people and likes to help individuals in need. From an early age, Shatoya felt a natural pull to consider a professional career in nursing—she wanted to become an obstetrician. 

As a student in Arsenal Technical High School's health professions magnet program, Shatoya first visited Marian University as an eighth grader in 1992. Arsenal's program gives youth insight into career pathways in the health professions, like working as certified medical assistants, nurses’ aides, dental assistants, etc. The program also focused on studies in physiology and advanced English and math. While she investigated several programs at a number of universities, Marian University, Indianapolis kept coming up as a top institute for nursing.

However, Shatoya was skeptical about attending Marian University. At the time, she was already a top college prospect in women’s basketball and many top National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges were recruiting her. Marian University is an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school, a smaller governing body for college athletics. Shatoya was torn. Should she play basketball at a NCAA school or study nursing at Marian University?

Shatoya would soon learn she could receive a scholarship to pursue her career as a nurse and play basketball at Marian University. She was a prestigious 21st Century Scholar award recipient, a Center for Leadership Development (CLD) alumnus, and came from a low-income family. Shatoya chose to attend Marian University.

During her first two years at Marian, Shatoya maintained her high grade point average, a requirement as a 21st Century Scholar, if pursuing a nursing degree. While in the program, she worked at local hospitals in both the geriatric and pediatric units. While in the geriatric unit, Shatoya enjoyed getting to know her patients, their living histories and their personal stories. On the pediatrics side, she loved working with the infants. 

All seemed well, and she was an exemplary nursing student, but felt tugged to do something different. Perhaps it was her experiences playing basketball and leading teams or a new found ability to teach others. In her junior year at Marian University, she decided she would change her major to education, with a focus on physical education and minored in the teaching sciences.

Ultimately, Shatoya worked in the field, completed her student teaching, and graduated from Marian University in 2002. Since she had a background in physical fitness, she took a slight detour to become a fitness coach with a strength and conditioning certification, leading to her employment at the YMCA as councilor, leader and director. With her minor in teaching from Marian University and her work at YMCA, she soon realized she wanted to be a licensed teacher. 

While she followed a networking strategy that included widening her pool of connections, she continued at the YMCA by working with kindergarteners, third graders, and middle school children. During her work with middle school kids, she realized that they needed the science teachers—and people took noticed of her abilities! 

Shatoya was encouraged by her networking contacts, friends and piers to become a teacher. In fact, a substitute teacher in a kindergarten class gave her an on-the-spot letter of recommendation one day to the principal. The principal gave Shatoya the final pieces of the puzzle to take and pass her tests, make the connections, and begin teaching. She began her teaching career, as a science teacher at Arlington High School and in her second year, was an Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) “Teacher of the Year” nominee. 

Then, along came Stonegate, a small charter school at the time and the school was looking for a science teacher. Although the salary was substantially less from her previous job, she liked their mission of offering credits to first generation college students. As a woman of faith, Shatoya believed this was a calling and a mission. She accepted the job in 2009 and worked at Stonegate for twelve months. Unfortunately, due to financial struggles Stonegate closed its doors in December of 2011.

In 2010, Shatoya accepted a position and taught science for two years at The Excel Center, a tuition-free charter school for adults and a new school at the time. In the first year, the Center graduated four students. By the end of year two, the Center graduated a staggering 156 students. Shatoya became a lead teacher and worked at several new Excel Center schools. Her leadership improved many of those schools and she opened a new school, which would be one of the top two performing Excel Center schools in Indiana. After three years, she was asked to be a regional director and supervised up to five schools in Indiana.

She came back to Marian to get her master’s working with LaTonya Turner of the Marian University Teaching and Learning Leadership program. Shatoya is a Mind Trust Innovation school fellow and will be the principal of Purdue Polytechnic High School Indianapolis. She has a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and safety science, and biology and her master’s degree in leadership administration, both from Marian University. Finally, she will be opening the new Purdue Polytechnic High School in the fall of 2017-18 school year.

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